UniversalCitation.org is a new, U.S.-based effort to urge governments to adopt non-proprietary legal citation standards, and to create new technologies that process and output non-proprietary legal citation information.
According to the project’s Website, the organizers of this effort are Tom Bruce of the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School — and a member of our community; John Joergensen of Rutgers Camden Law Library; Professor Bruce Kennedy of the University of Toledo College of Law; and Dean Peter W. Martin of Cornell University Law School.
In a position paper posted this week, Dean Martin proposes two principal goals for UniversalCitation.org:
- (1) seek to persuade U.S. jurisdictions that have not yet adopted a non-proprietary legal citation standard to do so; and
- (2) create an online citation server, that could receive a citation (proprietary or non-proprietary) for any U.S. court decision, and output a non-proprietary citation for the decision; hotlinks to non-proprietary and proprietary sources of full text of the decision; and hypertext code — linking to the citation server — for use by case management systems and drafters of legal documents.
The citation server would be modeled on a similar service that is currently offered by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School. (Click here to see how LII’s citation server generates multiple full-text access options for 397 U.S. 150.)
Dean Martin’s proposal currently calls for the citation server to be limited to appellate court decisions. Yet in many areas of U.S. law (including civil procedure, evidence, corporate law, and bankruptcy law), trial-level decisions are frequently cited and serve as valuable precedent. Accordingly, I encourage UniversalCitation.org to include trial court decisions, as well as appellate decisions, in the citation server. (Respecting civil procedure and evidence, decisions of federal and state trial courts serve as persuasive authority. In the corporate context, consider the role played by decisions of the Delaware Chancery Court in many jurisdictions. Respecting U.S. bankruptcy law, federal district court decisions often serve as first-level appellate decisions respecting rulings of bankruptcy courts, and bankruptcy litigation papers and court decisions frequently cite decisions of bankruptcy courts as persuasive authority.)
An organizational meeting for UniversalCitation.org will be held 25 July 2011, at the Rutgers Camden Law School. A list of individuals attending the July 25 meeting, or expressing support for the project, appears on the project’s Website.
For more information, please see the UniversalCitation.org Website.